Most of us suffer from sales aversion to the point we shut down at the mere hint of a sales pitch. Someone comes to the door and you “politely” shut it in their face. Whatever it is, you don’t want it, right?
We often inquire of our friends their favorite restaurant, or the name of a good mechanic. We’ll ask for the name of a doctor or an all-natural deodorant. But the moment someone openly shares these things unsolicited, the walls go up.
I know, I’m guilty of it, too. There’s just something inside us that rises up to guard us against being taken advantage of. It’s a wall of protection even friendship struggles to break through.
Your friends love to hear about your adventures, failures, successes. They don’t mind seeing pictures of your cat or your dinner. They don’t even mind hearing your review of a restaurant or movie. But don’t — whatever you do — share a product you sell.
Tell them you’ve seen great results with product XYZ and you might as well have leprosy.
Fool Me Once…
We have to go back to early childhood to find the root of this aversion. At some point in everyone’s life, there was a time when we were made to feel like a fool. You made a childish mistake, and someone laughed at you. Someone you trusted.
As a teen, you made a hasty purchase with your meager allowance, and soon had buyer’s remorse. You felt shame.
Maybe a time or two you’ve gotten into a business venture that turned out to be too good to be true, and you dragged some others in with you. You felt like a public failure.
In order to protect ourselves from this feeling of shame and embarrassment, we put up a barrier that says, “You can’t fool me.” And every time we let down this barrier and get fooled again (and we do), the next time the barrier is thicker.
It’s not as if we don’t like to buy things. Look around the malls and you can see we love to buy. We are a consumer society. Online shopping is an ever expanding marketplace. So truly, we do want to be sold to, we just don’t want to feel stupid.
How Proof Breaks Down The Wall
To sell your products, you’ve got to get past the thick wall of objection. One way to do that is to give assurance through proof.
There are three kinds of proof you can use to assure your prospect they won’t be foolish to buy from you. All of these help to build credibility.
Testimonies: When you share a testimony you give your prospect third-party proof that your product really does what you said it does. This is the success story, the satisfied customer, the referral from someone like them. The more of these you can provide, the more you chip away at that wall. Your prospect might not trust you yet, but they’ll trust the guy with nothing to gain. This kind of “social proof” goes a long way.
And if a picture paints a thousand words, a good before and after photo will speak ten-thousand.
Endorsements: Another third-party proof, these are the words of an expert. A doctor, a financial guru, a scientist — whoever is well qualified to speak of your product’s quality or value can make a good endorsement.
Solid validation can come in the form of charts, graphs, statistics and other visual elements of proof as well.
Large corporations often use celebrities to endorse their products. Although they aren’t experts, many people admire them and want to emulate them. But buyers aren’t dumb. They know full well these celebrities are generously paid for their endorsement.
Personal Profiles: This is commonly used with high-tech or medical products. Although your own testimony carries little weight when you’re the one that will profit, if your product is designed by a scientist or other expert, it can be worthwhile to show their credentials. Buyers want to know just what qualifies you to produce such a thing, and this proof of expertise will help to alleviate doubts.
Understanding your prospect’s obstacles to buying will help you in forming a strategic plan whereby you can gain his trust. With the right proofs, you take away the bricks from his wall and give assurance that he won’t feel like a fool for buying from you. You give him reasons to justify the purchase to himself and to others.
This, however, is just one tool for success that includes other trust building elements. You’ll need a compelling story, a powerful promise, meaningful features and benefits, an emotional connection, and a strong guarantee. But without removing this obstacle, you’re just likely to hit a dead-end.
Cindy White is a freelance copywriter specializing in helping businesses reach their target markets for increased sales and improved client relations through compelling, well-crafted copy. Initial consultations are always free of charge.
Thanks for another excellent blog post, Cindy.
The topic of sales aversion interests me. And you did it justice. I especially like how you point out that unsolicited sales pitches cause friends to shy away from you as if you had leprosy. Very visual, very true–very effective. Friends have history with us, after all. Potential prospects don’t.
Thank you for your comment Cara. This issue came to my attention as I tried to share a helpful product with friends but would get ignored. Friends don’t ignore you normally. I, myself, finally bought the product only after looking at lots of before and after pictures and reading testimonials. Those things are golden!